Saturday, March 12, 2016

Ironstevo Finishes the WoW Ironman Challenge (Again)

This incredible rendition of Ironstevo and his trusty blueberry minion Belnak was created by the talented @hugshot

Well guys n' gals, Ironstevo has done it again. He's reached the next level cap of the WoW Ironman Challenge as it currently exists. It was a long and wild ride to level 100, and a MUCH different experience than getting from 1 - 85 three years ago. He was also the first warlock to finish during this expansion, and the only one to finish without having either shadowmeld or feign death (two highly used life-saving abilities by many irons).
I'm not going to get all wordy here, because I'm about to do that in the transcript you can clearly see below. This is from the WoW Challenges podcast episode titled "Knowing is half the Battle," where I was asked to talk a bit about my experience with the challenge. Wall of text, yeah I know, at least I was kind enough to put the questions in bold to break it up a bit.
1. Tell us a little about yourself - the player behind the characters!

I'm currently a stay-at-home mom of 2 (ages 1 and 3), and happily married to my husband who I actually met through WoW about 8 years ago. (When your a healer and you find a good tank - marry him!)
I am also an artist, and I create geeky and gaming-related jewelry and sculptures that I sell on my etsy store. I generally work with polymer clay and resin.
Things non-wow that I enjoy are coffee, red wine, pugs, fantasy novels, skiing & snowboarding (I've got a major ski resort in my back yard - woot!) and sleep (when I can get it). 

2. How long have you been playing WoW?
I've been playing WoW for about nine years now. I started playing shortly after Burning Crusade was released. I don't believe I've been un-subbed at any point since I started, but I don't generally play a whole lot during content lulls before new expansions.
Content lulls were actually what got me interested in the ironman challenge. That, and the game steadily getting easier and easier as it evolved. I also figured it would be a fun way to add more content to my blog, as I focused on hunting down a lot of rares for xp. and writing about my experiences.

• And how long have you been participating in WoW Challenges?
I first started the WoW Ironman Challenge back during the Burning Crusade when people really seemed to start getting into it and it was being tracked at the old wowironman website.
When I first started, the level cap was 85 and no-one had actually reached that on an iron yet. As most usually do, I chose a hunter for my first iron (an undead hunter named Ironsteve). The pet + feign death certainly made it a more forgiving choice. I did pretty well on my first toon, and got him to level 52 before I clicked on the Alliance flight master in Tanaris without thinking. She killed me pretty quickly.
After the death of Ironsteve, Ironstevo the warlock was born - or...resurrected I guess you could say. I did eventually complete the challenge on him on June 2nd, 2012, so this will be the second time I've made it to max level during an expansion.

3. Tell us about your leveling experience with your new Lvl 100 Iron!

My leveling experience with Ironstevo has varied a LOT throughout the years. As I mentioned before, I started the ironman challenge during Cataclysm so the classes were all very different then. Most classes had far more abilities than what is available to irons today. For example, I used to have drain life and the ability the heal my voidwalker back then. I also had three different dots available and soulfire, which was my big hitter. Now locks pretty much have corruption and shadowbolt.
Things changed a lot during MoP, but I barely touched Ironstevo then, as I had just had my first child. I ultimately decided to pick up the challenge again to get from 87 - 100 around the end of last year.
Leveling from 1 - 60 for Ironstevo was completed with a variety of questing and rare hunting, and I made the whole experience tie in with my blog, which is entirely devoted to hunting down rares. Every few levels I'd give a progress update showing the various rares I'd found along with some YouTube videos of Ironstevo killing them.
From 60 - 70 I mainly quested through outland, as the rares there were actually  rare with long spawn timers. From 70 - 72 I finished up outland quests and then moved to Northrend, where I continued to quest exclusively until I discovered the insane amount of XP treasure chests gave around level 75. From 75 to 85 I did a mixture of Northrend questing and treasure hunting. Keep in mind all of this was done before the stat squish, so there was no 1-shotting prior expansion mobs at any point.
I briefly picked up Ironstevo at the beginning of 2013 and got a couple of levels, but ultimately I just didn't have time to move beyond that.
Toward the end of last year I decided it was finally time to catch up and try for those last 12 levels. I was very surprised by a lot of the changes - hardly any spells at my disposal, near no experience coming from kills in prior expansion content, and being able to almost one shot everything I had previously been killing in Northrend.
At 87 I started questing in Hyjal and then moved to Deepholm. I opened up the dailies in Mount Hyjal and did those for a while. Eventually I started doing the dailies in Tol Barad as well until about level 92. From there I started questing in Pandaria and doing various dailies with Pandaria factions. I did a small amount of treasure hunting there as well.
At level 96 I ventured into Draenor using the campfire in the cave on the Timeless Isle. I then carefully made my way to Frostfire where I did the initial quests to open my garrison. I continued to quest in Frostfire and complete bonus objectives, while at the same time looking for treasures. When I couldn't safely continue quests there I moved to Gorgrond where I again quested , worked on bonus objectives and sought out treasure. At one point I ran around Shadowmoon Valley as well to grab the treasures I was familiar with and get as much exploration xp as safely possible. After that I dabbled around Talador where I did more of the same. I eventually dinged 100 while treasure hunting in the Spires of Arak.
I was EXTREMELY relieved when Ironstevo hit 100, especially as I had a few very close calls right near the end. Ironstevo nearly bit the bullet while trying to grab a treasure in Gorgrond. I thought I only needed to kill one mob to get the treasure, but when I pulled it, the mob proceeded to run away from me, aggro three other adds and THEN head my way.  At the same time it hit me with some crazy physical damage (perhaps an aoe) that immediately brought me to about 30% health. I popped a healthstone and ran, hoping the mobs would reset. They didn't. Fortunately with some good timing I was able to resummon my voidwalker a couple of times before I was left to fend for myself, and I slowly picked off the adds.
The other close call I had was while doing one of the bonus objectives in Frostfire - the one in the cave. I had never done the objective before, but was high enough level that I figured I'd be fine so I gave it a shot. The kill 10 of 10 whatevers was no big deal, but then I had to kill a named. I carefully cleared to him and around him, and then I pulled. OMG, then I nearly had a heart attack. Adds...adds everywhere. There were voidwalker was dying ... very quickly. I was taking a lot of damage from somewhere, it was so hectic I'm not sure exactly where it came from. I turned tail and RAN. After a few steps I realized my voidwalker would be dead within seconds. Having a living voidwalker is FAR more important than putting distance between an iron lock and danger. I was able to resummon just as he was about to die and then I continued to run. I ran for what felt like forever until I hit the next sub-zone to reset the encounter.

4. Why did you choose the class and race you did?

I chose warlock after my hunter died because I honestly felt like hunter was a bit too easy. Yes, I know I died on the hunter, but it was a stupid mistake. I was fairly confident that I could have gotten him to a much higher level. That being said I wanted more of a challenge, but not *too much* of a challenge. I was not very familiar with the warlock class, and it seemed like a fun way to get a little more intimate with it. As for choosing undead - I LOVE the undead male casting animations. Plus mohawks.

5. What has been the most challenging for you with leveling an Iron?

Well, the biggest challenge while leveling Ironstevo has basically been the instances where I wasn't exactly sure of what I was getting myself into. Without feign death or shadowmeld as a way out of combat when things got bad, I really had to be extra careful when engaging difficult mobs. I always had to have a way out just in case at all times. If I wasn't sure about something I would generally do some research on Wowhead, and either move forward or simply not risk it if I thought there was a possibility of not surviving.

6. What zones did you level through?

I think Ironstevo's leveling route looked something like this - Tirisfal Glades, Silverpine Forest, Hillsbrad, Arathi Highlands, Hinterlands, Western and Eastern Plaguelands, Badlands, Tanaris, Burning Steppes, Swamp of Sorrow and then Blasted Lands. I chose these zones for questing, and also for the abundance of rares I was already familiar with.

• Did you have a specific path in mind to follow for leveling?
I don't usually have a specific path, especially because I routinely play both factions for ironman. I do always find my way through Western and Eastern Plaguelands on every iron I've even gotten that high though. I love the quests, and there are SO many rares very close together.

7. What zone did you find was the most unfriendly to a WoW Challenge toon?

If I had to pick one I'd probably say Vash'jir because you have to be aware of what is around you AND above and below you. I am also not very familiar with the zone as I quest through Hyjal on all of my leveling toons. Ultimately I think the best answer is - whatever zone you are least familiar with will be the most unfriendly. Knowing is half the battle.
8. What has been your fondest memory with leveling this toon, besides hitting 100?

Hitting 85? Ok guess that wouldn't count either. Haha, well I guess I'd have to say there isn't one particular moment, but something else entirely. This challenge has given me a love for the warlock class that I wouldn't otherwise have. I love casters, but it's typically mage, shaman or priest I'd play. I just never could get into locks. Over the last few years though, I've spent SO much time playing Ironstevo that his dark magic and blueberry minion have really grown on me.
9. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to try a WoW Challenge toon?
• Any extra tips or tricks?

As I stated in one of my previous answers, do what you know. The unfamiliar has been a killer of many previous irons. Also, pay attention to what faction your playing and stay FAR away from opposing faction bases and camps. Some of them have surprisingly large aggro radiuses. Ummm...don't click on opposing flight masters - instead of sending you to your intended destination, they'll send you straight to the nearest spirit healer.
Always be on the lookout for chests while your questing. Most are usually near or in structures, trees or other points of interest. They give very good xp. Be on the lookout for rares when leveling 1 - 60. The easier classes such as hunters and monks shouldn't have any issues with most rares in the correct level range. More difficult classes such as mages and warriors may want to avoid them altogether unless you vastly out-level them.

<end transcript>

Yes it was wordy, I know, but I have a habit of doing that. Ahh well, better than being vague with my responses I guess. Anywho, that's it for Ironstevo until Legion when the challenge is going to be turned upside down.

I have also been working on an actual rare-related post behind the scenes here too *GASP!*. If I ever get around to finishing that I'll send out a tweet or something to let people know.

Much Love, E <3


  1. Congratulations Stevo! Hope you enjoy resting up until Legion, you've earned it!

    1. Thanks Tome! Words cannot describe how relieved I am now that he's 100 lol.